HomeHealthWhy is My Baby Swallowing Food Without Chewing?

Why is My Baby Swallowing Food Without Chewing?

Why is your baby swallowing food without chewing? Parents frequently worry about this, and while it may seem frightening, there are explanations for this behaviour.Here, we will delve into the possible causes of why your baby may be skipping the chewing process and going straight to swallowing. 

From developmental milestones to sensory issues, understanding the underlying factors can help you address this issue with confidence. So, let’s explore why your baby might be bypassing the chewing stage and what you can do to support their feeding journey.

When Is My Baby Ready to Start Chewing?

Chewing is not an overnight procedure. It is a progressive skill that builds on previous skills and events. The following are the different elements that may affect a baby’s ability to chew.


A baby’s capacity to chew solid food develops after six months of age . As a result, chewing can only occur once the baby is able to ingest meals.

Extrusion reflex

The extrusion reflex is a natural reflex in which the baby regurgitates any solid food placed on their tongue. It avoids unintentional choking from solids. Babies lose this reaction by the age of six months. It is one of the initial steps towards the development of chewing.

Gag reflex

The gag reflex, like the extrusion reflex, protects the baby from choking on food. When a solid food item is positioned near the back of the tongue, the reflex is activated, causing the infant to spit the food out of their mouth. Six months later, the response starts to wane.


Chewing can be done with or without teeth. As a result, even at six months, introducing your infant to soft and pureed baby foods will require some chewing. It helps the baby to get enough practice before developing teeth. Each food demands a separate set of mouthparts. You can progressively increase the firmness of the food you provide the infant dependent on their level of acceptance.


Teething is necessary for chewing since only with teeth can a baby break down firm food into smaller pieces and properly masticate. By the time babies get teeth, they will have learned the fundamentals of chewing.

Why is My Baby Swallowing Food Without Chewing?

Babies develop the ability to chew during their toddlerhood. To increase their chewing ability, a youngster must go through their own learning curve. However, some toddlers may have a delay in their ability to chew.

Lack of interest in food

Similar meals or an inclination for easy-to-chew foods may influence babies’ and toddlers’ interest in certain foods.

Blogger, ‘Happiest Ladies,’ shares her two-year-old’s eating choices, saying, “At the age of two, he knows to chew and eat cookies, wheat dosa, and urad dosa topped with honey.” But his stomach fills are still porridge… There are no signs of his fully eliminating oatmeal from his everyday diet anytime soon. He only eats four to five bites of dosa, even whether it’s topped with any of the sweets. He also enjoys a few little mouthfuls of curd rice coloured with grated carrots and pomegranate seeds. However, four to five bites or a couple of spoonfuls of food do not fulfil a baby’s appetite. It is also an unhealthy diet for the child. So I follow his regular healthy porridge diet.

Delayed baby food introduction

By the time a baby reaches 12 months old, he or she should have been introduced to a variety of solid food shapes and textures. If parents don’t try different ways to feed their kids solid foods, they could grow bored and start gulping food instead of chewing it first.

Dental and orofacial problems

Toddlers with dental and orofacial abnormalities, such as cleft lip and/or palate, may find chewing challenging and exhausting. Identifying the problem and administering proper treatment in such circumstances may help improve the toddler’s chewing ability.

How To Encourage My Baby Chewing Food Without Swallowing?

A newborn will naturally acquire the skill of chewing at some point. Parents can experiment with the following methods to excite, exercise, and enhance a baby’s or toddler’s chewing abilities, particularly when introducing solid meals via baby-led weaning.

Use Teethers

Babies that have already tried with chewing may do well with eating food. Teethers may create the framework for a baby’s chewing process. Try giving your baby a teether and encouraging them to use it, even if they initially refuse it. Choose soft rubber teethers free of flavours and pieces that could break. Also, avoid using toothpaste that contains liquids, phthalates, or BPA.

Help babies Practice On Large Pieces Of Food

If your baby does not like teethers, you might provide vast chunks of food as a natural alternative. Carrots and celery are excellent natural teethers. Ensure the vegetables are sliced into large bits the infant cannot ingest.This method should not be used if your baby already has teeth, especially the front incisors, as it could result in the baby accidently swallowing a piece of vegetable.

Demonstrate Chewing

If your baby does not like teethers, you might provide huge chunks of food as a natural alternative. Carrots and celery are excellent natural teethers. Ensure the vegetables are sliced into large bits the infant cannot ingest. This method should not be used if your baby already has teeth, especially the front incisors, as it could result in the baby accidently swallowing a piece of vegetable.

Brush Their Gums And Teeth

You can clean their teeth using a baby toothbrush and a small amount of children’s toothpaste. For gum massage in edentulous babies, use gauze and purified water. Brushing a baby’s teeth reduces gag reflex sensitivity and promotes tooth health.

Serve Foods Of Different Textures And Flavors

After your baby turns eight months old, serve them foods with diverse textures. It will stimulate the chewing process and cause the child’s mouth to move in the manner most appropriate for eating a specific food item. You can start by giving them finger meals or crispy items that soften in the tongue, including puffed rice, graham crackers, and boiled veggies.

Check For Reflexes

Extrusion and gag responses disappear around six months of age. They may last longer in a few babies. You can check for the presence of these responses regularly to serve appropriate solid foods.

Start Small

Each new food item or meal represents a new experience for a baby. Do not be concerned about how much your baby eats. Instead, focus on feeding little bits of a food item to get the baby to accept it while also working on their chewing abilities, which can help with their general infant feeding development.

Be Patient

If your infant dislikes a particular dish, don’t give up. Try it again a few days later. Also, offer one new food item at a time so the infant becomes accustomed to the taste and texture.

Let Them Eat On Their Own

If your infant enjoys imitating your parents while eating, let them sit next to you during meals. This can encourage the baby to take food into their hands and chew it happily. An infant with a self-motivated interest in eating may have an easier time learning to chew.

Feed Them At Fixed Timings

When a baby’s stomach is complete, they are more likely to swallow food without chewing it. As a result, feed the infant regularly throughout the day to ensure that the child is hungry when it is time to eat. A hungry baby is more likely to show interest in chewing novel foods.

Try A Fruit Feeder

A mesh bag is used in a fruit feeder to hold fruit pieces. The baby can eat the fruit and drink the liquids, and because the fruit is inside a mesh bag, it won’t fall out. Remember to only purchase FDA-approved feeders.

Things To Do While The Baby Learns To Chew

As a baby’s chewing skills improve, parents face additional obstacles. Here are some things to educate your baby while they practise their chewing abilities.

  • Teach them how to eat with their mouths closed. The sooner your newborns learn to eat with their mouths closed, the fewer issues you will experience in the future. Show them how to eat with the mouth closed.
  • Teach them to chew for longer. Chewing marks the start of digestion, so train your babies to hold onto food for a little longer.
  • Offer positive reinforcement. Encourage the infant with nice words when they chew correctly. Acknowledge their successful efforts. Keep changing the texture of food to help the toddler practise chewing.

Can Babies Chew Food Without Teeth?

Yes, newborns can chew soft and pureed foods even without teeth. However, food is mostly eaten by the lower and upper first molar teeth, which appear about 18 months of age. Until then, babies can acquire fundamental chewing actions, which become more advanced when teeth develop. 

What If You Don’t See The Baby Chewing?

Due to their small mouths, babies’ chewing habits are hard to monitor. As a result, you’re likely to have missed those delicate and nearly undetectable chewing movements. The next time your baby eats, pay close attention to their mouth motions. If you still see no chewing movements, give your infant some more time. Each baby is unique and can learn the skill at their own rate.

Help Babies Improve Their Chewing Skills

Once you realise that your baby is getting better at eating and swallowing, you may help them enhance their abilities. Here are some strategies for achieving this effortlessly.

  • Try to show your infant how to eat with their mouth closed. Babies should strive to learn this sooner rather than later.
  • Teach babies to chew their food longer, as this aids digestion.
  • Finally, whenever the baby chews correctly, give him positive feedback. By doing so, you will urge children to chew and swallow properly.

Keep in mind that chewing is a skill that develops gradually, so not every baby will master it at the same age. Every baby is different, so if you observe them having difficulty exhibiting for the first time or struggling with certain foods, you should always give them extra time.

Try different foods to find what works best for your baby’s first solids, and keep them away from difficult chunks of food until they learn how to chew and swallow properly. Patience is always rewarded when it comes to babies.

Final Words

Babies swallowing food without chewing is a common concern for many parents. While it may seem alarming, it’s essential to understand that babies have reflexes that allow them to swallow food safely even without teeth for chewing.Babies will instinctively pick up the skill of chewing their food as they mature.  

However, if you have any concerns about your baby’s eating habits, it’s always best to consult with a pediatrician or feeding specialist for personalized guidance. Keep in mind that each child is different, so what suits one might not suit another. To ensure that your kid has a healthy eating journey, as a parent, trust your instincts and, when necessary, seek professional assistance. 





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